26. Notes to my mother-in-lawby Phyllida Law
third book for the Dewey Decimal Challenge 2012
I think that Phyllida Law is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. And some of that beauty comes from an ever-present twinkle in those blue eyes.
In this book, the twinkle comes through in her words as well.
… aware at last that she was becoming increasingly isolated, I began to write out the day's gossip at the kitchen table, putting my notes by her bed before I went to mine.And what a gem it is. It is funny and warm and paints a picture of English life in the late sixties and early seventies. We go to the shops, we meet the neighbors, we hear of the ailments, and learn the family stories. And we see the particularly funny way that the author looks at the world, and laughs at herself.
One night my husband wandered off to his, muttering darkly that I spent so much time each evening writing to Gran that I could have written a book - 'And illustrated it!' he shouted from the stairs.
Here it is.
It seems there is a new deaf-aid on the market. I keep seeing it. It's like an Alice band so you wear it on your head with these wee muff things that sit on your ears. Very practical. You'd be surprised how many young people are wearing them. You are not alone. I shall do a bit of research and report back, because I think they might be the very thing.To me, this is hilarious. As is:
… I told Dad [her husband] about the new deaf-aid on the market and he tells me it's a thing called a Walkman which plays music into your ears. He and the girls were hysterical. Trust me to get it wrong!
No, darling. I don't think there is any question of your having a cataract. I think that some of those library books have very small print…Writing of the neighbor, Mrs Venning:
She says Syd has a very sweet tooth. He gave her 50p to go to Alexis for a piece of cheesecake and two Bath buns for his lunch. Well, my dear, she only got a small piece of cheesecake for the money. 'Where are the buns?' cried Syd.The illustrations are also humorous and delightful. The story that goes along with this one
'He lives in the past,' says Mrs V.
is about how one floats in salty water.
I couldn't get my bottom under the water. Dad [her husband] said it looked as if I was being followed by a baby elephant. Or a small island.When Gran has her final illness at the end, you would never know there was any serious trouble from the cheery, normal, one-sided conversation Phyllida keeps up in her notes.
Great excitement at home. Your room looks gorgeous already.There is a dear afterward by both granddaughters about their beloved Gran.
In the course of this book, we learn that Phyllida Law is as beautiful inside as outside. Her kindness, her wit, her joy in living comes through in each word she writes to her mother-in-law. This is just so wonderful. I had a smile on my face for the entire book.